Now I'm all for tradition, and I'm certainly not complaining about the treats that I do get because my mom is creative to no avail when it comes to stuffing these suckers year in and year out. But sometimes I wonder what else could be found in my stocking Christmas morning (I can still act like a kid on December 25, can't I?). What if Mom were to stray from tradition and offer up a stocking with a running theme? A stocking is just a larger version of a sock, after all. And if that's the case, here are some picks to fill a runner's stocking come Christmas--or Secret Santa exchange, White Elephant party or Hanukkah.
- Feetures! socks. Any socks would fit into a stocking, but I'm currently digging my Feetures pair. They're soft and bright white--even after multiple washings--and they're holding up to the abuse I put most socks through. I'm always losing a sock in the wash, poking holes in their toes, or finding strays in my sock drawer. And what runner couldn't use a new pair of socks? Certainly not me.
- Nathan LED Strobe. It's small, it's battery-operated, it's easy to turn on and off, and it clips onto anything. With six blinking light varieties, it's perfect for calling attention to yourself when running or cycling, which can't be a bad thing when the days are shorter than the nights. signaling there's a runner on the path or a cyclist on the road. That is if drivers are paying attention.
- Gift card. This piece of plastic might seem like a cop-out when it comes to gift-giving any other time of the year, but not if you want to assure giving a gift that won't be returned on December 26. Small enough to slide into a stocking, but offering enough variety to customize as you see fit. Want to give music (iTunes) to update that overused running playlist, a new piece of running gear (from a favorite running store or brand), a cup o' joe (Starbucks) to perk up the morning of a race or after a long training run, a post-run smoothie (Jamba Juice) to get some nutrients back in the stomach after a hard workout? The possibilities are endless.
- Shot Bloks. Lately these Clif gummies have been my not-so-secret weapons on the marathon and triathlon courses--I'm addicted but hate shelling out the $2 per package. So finding these in my stocking, Tropical Punch-flavored please, would make me and my wallet happy. If Shot Bloks don't feed your fancy, there are always gels, Sport Beans, tablets and gummies to experiment with.
- Running-themed reading. Maybe it's a book, maybe it's training material, maybe it's a subscription (or renewal) to Runner's World, Women's Running or Running Times, to name a few. Whatever the case, it's something to think about running even when you're not out there doing it.
- Road ID. Tired of carrying half your wallet with you on the run or lack the pockets to do so? Here's a solution: Carry your personal information on your wrist with Road ID. It's like a WWJD band or LiveStrong bracelet that makes a statement except this time it's a personal one. Or take it one step further with Nathan's Vitaband, a wristband that acts as a personal and medical ID plus debit card.
- Gloves. Like socks, I'm always losing these handwarmers so I buy the $1 stretchy pairs you can often find at marathon expos or the drug store. They're nothing fancy, but they make so much difference to keep the digits warm on a cold run. A hat or headband works, too.
- iPod Shuffle. Want more a big-ticket item inside that stocking? I'd go iPod shuffle all the way. It's under $50, it's compact and it carries tunes to pass the run time. And sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up, especially in winter.
- Garmin watch. Whether it's the 310XT, the 405, the FR60 or any other Garmin device that's caught your eye of late, surprise your runner with a new watch to track those distances and log the run results. They might turn you into a data geek just yet. Three other options: Adidas micoach, Nike+ SportWatch GPS, Nike+ SportBand.
- Sport-Wash. Maybe you have a couple of one-wash packets of this Penguin product from the last fun run or race that you did. Rather than save it for yourself, you could always re-gift the sample to another runner to try on his or her running clothes.
- Runner ornament. For as long as I can remember, Christmases have always included at least one themed ornament--sports, travel, hobbies--to add to the tree decorations. I've acquired running shoes, skiers, a swimmer, bike parts--and that's only recounting a handful in my collection. Search "runner ornament" and you're all set, perhaps with this Boston Marathon runner.
Photo grabbed from hammer51012 at flickr.